Tuesday, 20 November 2012

3 Gigs in 2 days, 4 Gigs in 4 days!

Sometimes you can be very unlucky when it comes to a large number of events and gigs that you want to go to and they are all happening at the same time, but sometimes, just sometimes, it all comes together!

Gig No.1 

On Friday the 16th November The Defekters had a launch party gig at The Coach and Horses in Stevenage old Town and of course, with then having played at Club-85 recently on my birthday night, I just had to go.

I went along with my daughter Fran and Ignatius and we all had a splendid time as support came along in the form of the marvellous Golddust:-

Neil & Ellie giving it their all, the very splendid Golddust.

More support came in the form of the highly entertaining 'Semi Skinned':-

 Semi Skinned doin' it large.

And then of course came The 'Defekters', if you thought they were good at Club-85 well, at the Coach they ripped the roof off!

The Defekters tearing down the Coach & Horses.

All in all a very splendid night but that was just the start of things as, on Saturday, a very special event took place.

Gig No.2

Stevenage Museum has a current exhibition all about Bowes Lyon House and Music, over the years, in it's heyday, Bowes was 'Mecca' for music fans, just about every band or artist that really mattered played there and in the late 70's / early 80's was THE place for Punk.
Drifting back through the years, both 'Nuzz' Prowling Wolf and Chris Ripple were movers and shakers on the local music scene, and the great thing is that they still are!
So, a museum, an exhibition, a gig?
Yes, a gig!
It was what is termed in the museum business as a 'Living Exhibition', Chris Ripple performed some of his expressive, entertaining, hard hitting, satirical and down right splendid poetry, while, for one afternoon only, the infamous 'Drug Prowling Wolves' (Nuzz & Roger anyway) reformed to give us some musical? entertainment.

My friend and fellow poet Graeme Lloyd outside the window display.

A smattering of artists and punters on 'smoke' break.

The mighty Chris Ripple in full flow

If you believed the publicity, and I swear it's all true, some of the comments about the DPW's from way back:-
"So bad they're actually good"
"Never let these guys near a stage again, ever"
etc. Well, all I have to say is their first set was very interesting, Nuzz 'broke' his acoustic guitar during the firt number!

DPW's - "Getting a life"

And Jon Thurlow joined them on stage too!

There was a respectable crowd there to enjoy the afternoon and join in the fun, it was such a nostalgic trip down memory lane and a real treat to hear some of Chris's older poems and some of the songs by the DPW's that I never ever dreamed I'd hear again, a success I believe.

So taking a short break after the Museum gig I grab a coffee and a sticky bun from Gregg's and settle down like some old dosser by the fountain to watch the shoppers pass by and the rats play, yes, a rat was darting in and out between shoppers footsteps to grab tasty morsels before darting back to the bushes!

And then it was off to the station to catch my train to Arlesey for the pick up to go off for the night, overnight, at Melbourn Rock Club to see Pig Iron with Motor Oil & Confidence and Walkway in support, this was very much a Fellowship of the Stick event, hence most of the pictures are far too incriminating to post and as per usual, I captured most of it in verse.

Gig No.3

It Wasn’t Us, It Was The Bear!

The one and only Fender Bear

It wasn’t us, it was the bear
He get’s into trouble everywhere!
As a special treat we took him to 
Melbourn Rock Club’s Saturday do 
Four of the Fellowship came along
We should have been at least five strong
But Paul had trouble with the lads
And that made us all feel very sad
But not for long!

Sally, Kevin, Chris & Peter + Fender Bear

Chris, Kevin, Peter, Grant and Fender
All out thanks to Maurice on a bender
Keith and Sally were there too
And a smattering of others that we knew
The beers flowed and the JD’s as well
Apart from Chris, now who could tell
He switched from cheap to the Purser’s Rum
And what ensued was so much fun!


There were delicious BBQ’d cheese burgers
Or as a treat you could have one with sausages
And to spice things up of course
Try a splash of chilli Sauce!
Fender guarded some lasses cider
He really wanted to sit beside her
We drank we danced we rocked all night
And some of the photo’s, what a fright!
It may have seemed we were without a care
But don’t blame us, it was the bear!

Motor Oil & Confidence - Olly giving us his all on bass.

Motor Oil & Confidence were good I’d say
And we were well impressed by Walkway
And then Pig Iron tore Melbourn a new one
Showed everyone just how it should be done
Good old Maurice triumphs once more
Well he did let us all through the door
And now we’ve such memories to share
But don’t blame us, it was the bear!

Walkway, a splendid young band, really rocked.

We stayed up late with some of the bands
And a couple or two of the Rock Club ‘hands’
And then at last it was time for Fender’s Den
For the fun to start all over again
Four of us in a two berth caravan
If anyone can do it the Fellowship can
But naughty Fender spilt lots of drink
And Grant was soaked in JD & coke, what a stink
All over his coat and in his hair
But don’t blame us, it was the bear!

Pig Iron, tearing Melbourn Rock Club a new one!

Grant & Chris on beds and Peter on the floor
And Kevin perched up high up on a board
Music off, music on, music off, music on
Sound sensitive disco lights what can go wrong?
Stumbling around in the dark to go for a pee
Poor Peter laying there trampled under feet
But were we sober enough to really care?
Don’t blame us it was the bear!


Morning came with a welcome sun
To shine upon our night of fun
And warm away any hangover feelings
Embarrassments and drunken reeling’s
With a wake up call of “Breakfast’s ready”
Maurice was just as always so ‘rock steady’
And we had hot coffee and a full English too
And Grant de-oxygenated the poor club’s loo
And then we packed up camp and left for home
Another splendid outing over and done
So many great memories to treasure and share
Oh yes, it was us, The Fellowship AND Fender Bear

The Fellowship of the Stick, very sober gentlemen.

Sunday is, and was, a day of rest!

Monday came, work was hectic, but Monday evening we were off again, this time to London to the Shepherds Bush Empire to see Gong supported by Enochian Theory, but where oh where was Peter?

Gig No.4

 Going, Going, Gong!

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you, oo, oo
Well, what else were we to do?
We’d already waited an hour at the gate
And Peter, Peter, Peter was late!
Not a word not a sound
And time was skipping along
The Fellowship was off to London to see Gong

Reluctantly, after leaving messages galore
We set off, we three
Kevin Chris and me
And no Peter!
It didn’t feel right
But we had to salvage the night
And when we were well on the way
The phone rang
And we sang, “So tired, tired of waiting”
And, “Get your arse on the train
And we’ll all meet up again”
Which we did in the Central Bar at Shepherds Bush
What a rush
Finally, finally, the four of us

Enochian Theory were the support
Strange ethereal metal refrains
OK, but I prefer Stuart O’Connor
When it comes to that sort of music for the brain
So we weren’t quite able to lose it to the sounds
While Gong, on the other hand
Treated us to a classic vintage set
Radio Gnome Invisible, Angel’s Egg & You
With a smattering of 2032
And boy oh boy can Orlando Allen play those drums!

I met Keith The bass from Here and Now
We chatted about old times and new music, wow!
‘Poodle Hair man’ was there too
All in all a very good do
And even all so much the better
For the ride home in ‘The Randy Lover’
We proved that with a will it can be done
Nights out on ‘School days ‘can be fun.

Grant Meaby

 And that is how I came to go to 3 gigs in 2 days and 4 gigs in 4 days, so, it's now time for a long, long, rest!
Until the next time, "Have a cup of Tea".
Grant Meaby, November 2012

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Tale of Two Nights

Friday 9th November - White Rabbit at The Emperor, Cambridge.

Saturday 10th November - Panic Room, Morpheus Rising & Howard Sinclair at The Borderline, London

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together? 

Well, in order for that to happen you need a plan in the first place!

Normally our gig going exploits are planned weeks in advance and often with military precision, although we live within 20 miles of each other we abide in such diverse locations, some with easy access and others with limited access to public transport.
It's usually a case of where shall we meet? 
What time shall we meet? 
Which train shall we aim for etc. 
Sometimes it all goes horribly wrong and sometimes it all sort of just, well, works!

Of course plans are all well and good but they don't cater for spontaneity and this weekends exploits were certainly somewhat spontaneous!

On the Thursday we became aware that Panic Room were playing at the Borderline in London on the Saturday night and supported by our old mates Morpheus Rising, well that had to be done didn't it.

It was also mooted that on Friday we should go to Cambridge to see White Rabbit at the Emperor and Kevin offered not only to drive but to pick us all up and dump us home afterwards, sorted, a plan for Friday at least!

What can I say about White Rabbit, this, superb musicianship, Penny has a great voice, they played 2 long sets and there was not one song I didn't sing along to! 
We had The Beatles, Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era) The Small Faces, Mountain and of course Jefferson Airplane, absolutely superb and much enjoyed by the crowd.

In fact, when we arrived The Emperor was jammed, being in Cambridge and fairly early on a Friday night there were a large number of 'young' people present (As well as a goodly smattering of some fairly obvious more mature rock fans).
Once the band was in full sway it was quite obvious who was into the 60's & 70's Psychedelia, those who weren't fairly quickly disappeared although a good many stayed, drank and swayed and like us, sang along.

Kevin & Grant 


We of course had dressed for the occasion, as had the band.

Emperors and White Rabbits

 One song makes you sing
And one song makes you dance
And the lights that keep flashing
Induce some kind of trance
White Rabbit
When they’re in full flow
And if you listen to White Rabbits
And you know you’re going to sing
Tell them that The Fellowship
Has given you a ring
To see White Rabbit
They’re like the real thing

When the sound system is all set up
The band is ready to start to play
And you’ve just had some kind of beer drink
And then the room begins to sway
See White Rabbit
It’s a special day

When the sixties and the seventies
All magically reappear
And your memories are rekindled
And you know it’s all good to hear
Remember it’s all in your ears
“Feed your ears……
Feed your ears”

The astute among you may recognise the song upon which the above poem is structured. It was all in all, a fabulous evening during which a plan for Saturday was hatched!

In a very rare and somewhat sensible frame of mind and I suppose in no small way in consideration of our ever-loving wives, our wallets and what happened when we set off so early for the Stabbing a Dead Horse extravaganza, Kevin and I decided to set off to London early evening rather than lunchtime, a very wise and sensible and completely out of character decision!

Nothing Happened

Catching the right train
Didn’t happen!
Getting the right tube
Didn’t happen!
So it must all have just been
A figment
A figment of my imagination
That had me standing at the station
Somewhat in anticipation

Third carriage from the front
Is where Kevin would be
And me
And there we were (again)
On a London bound train
Obviously nothing happened
As it all went to plan

We caught the right tube
Packed in like sardines in a can
Off to Leicester Square
To walk towards centre Point

Stopping off in the huge Weatherspoons
What a joint!
Three thirds of different ales
Before the slow amble past 'Manbar'

Into the 'Pillars of Hercules'
“Two pints of the finest ale please”
And a quick stop in 'Crobar'
The JD & Cokes didn’t go far
So we had to have another, but
Nothing happened

By now it was time
To descend into The Borderline
Morpheus Rising had just hit the stage
They saw us and said “Hi” as they played
That warm glow, awesome music, good company
But, nothing happened, obviously

Morpheus Rising

Howard Sinclair was pretty damn good too
And well, as for Panic Room, wow
The ciders and JD’s flowed
We jigged and swayed
Danced the night away

Howard Sinclair

Anne-Marie Helder - Panic Room

Until all too soon
It was time to take a walk
Back to the tube and a little bit of Time Warp
And huge pasties at Kings Cross
And the right train home
But nothing happened, of course

Well, if this is nothing all I can say
“Can we please do nothing again soon one day”.

Morpheus Rising really rocked the place, they were on top form and it was so good to see the guys again, 'Fighting Man' & 'Lord of the North' certainly had us bopping around with the best of them!

Singer songwriter Howard Sinclair, whom I must admit and apologise to, was previously unknown to me and he played a storming set that I very much enjoyed.

Panic Room, well, I thought they were good when I saw them at CRF earlier this year (I always think they're good so OK I'm somewhat biased) but boy oh boy did they rock the Borderline, the first night of The 'Skin' Tour, they played it like most bands play their final tour night, absolute blinder of a gig, playing just about all of 'Skin' and a huge selection from their now somewhat impressive back catalogue and Anne-Marie, phew!

Two absolutely extraordinarily different nights of such totally diverse and splendid music but I guess that's what being part of The Fellowship of the Stick is all about, diversity, love, peace, friendship and or course not forgetting,  getting as pissed as a newt whenever possible!

Stay warm one and all, until the next time, cool runnings, Grant. 

Words Copyright Grant Meaby Nov 2012, Photographs Copyright Grant Meaby Nov 2012 Except the bunny poster which I nicked from White Rabbit!

Monday, 5 November 2012

A Taste of Delirium (Stabbing a Dead Horse)

A Taste of Delirium (Stabbing a Dead Horse)
What happens when you take two prominent members of the now (almost) famous, or could it be infamous? ‘Fellowship of the Stick’, plonk them in a previously unexplored part of London with about six hours before what might just turn out to be one of the gigs of the year?

This does!

It started, as these things so often do, with a somewhat tentative and nebulous plan which, by the time various beery conversations had been had and promises made, especially to the wonderful Matt Stevens, that we would come to the London leg and finale of, the ‘Stabbing a Dead Horse’ tour on Friday 2nd November 2012 at the Lexington in Pentonville Road.

A tough but wise decision as:-

a) The evening clashed with IO Earth and the Tangent at the Peel in Kingston &

b) We can get home from central or north London by train whereas The Peel is only drive-able to or involves an overnighter at the lovely Travel Lodge! Easy really, decision made!

For the uninitiated, ‘Stabbing a Dead Horse’ does not immediately sound like a title for a Progressive Rock / Rock tour featuring three of the best young experimental bands around (With a fourth ‘local’ support band being added on several nights), however, it’s not too difficult to work out if you consider the following;

Stabbing = Knifeworld

Dead = The Fierce and the Dead

Horse = Trojan Horse

Still with me? If not best you give up now or, if you’re a real ale of pub ‘buff’ just read on through the ‘pubby’ bit until you get to the music bits.
(Self critical comment, great use of English Grant!).

Still, if you can’t take the Mickey out of yourself you don’t deserve to do so to anyone else, that’s what we always say, me, myself and I.

So, six hours to kill before the gig in the best possible way that two blokes who are not gay for each other can possibly enjoy, a pub crawl.

‘The Pubby Bit’ (Which is a purely personal recollection of events!)
Having departed work just after 12:00 we headed straight off to London and into Farringdon where we started off in the ‘Ye Olde Mitre’ a very attractive historic old pub tucked away down a side alley and once under the control and law of the Diocese of Cambridge, full of atmosphere and authentic history and with great beers and delicious bar snacks.

From here it was but a short hop to the ‘One Tun’, again somewhat tucked away but well worth a visit and it’s virtually next door to the ‘Sir John Oldcastle’ a fairly ‘Spoony’ sort of pub which is not actually surprising as it is in fact a, Weatherspoons, but, they did have some decent beers on during their beer festival.

One of the longest strolls between pubs took us up to the ‘Hat and Tun’ where the walls are decorated with stuffed animals and antlers and Kevin played ‘Toss the Barman’, not as awful as it sounds, it’s a dice game where you can, if lucky, win your drinks for free, needless to say after a lot of banter and hilarity, we didn’t! They also have a quiz here, as do many pubs and as we talked about quizzes and clever people, Kevin came out with the quote of the day “I’m not saying that you are thick, it’s just, you are not the cleverest person I know!” It was meant (and taken with) love and affection, the b’stard!

Next it was a short stroll to the Jerusalem Tavern’ for some excellent St. Peter’s beers (St. Peter’s is the brewery and they specialise in a range of organic beers). Another one of the oldest London pubs which does not appear to have been redecorated since some time in the Middle Ages! But, but, but, it was in this fine establishment that we met Paul Tippett, as in ‘Vitamin P’, now anyone who knows their music, especially their album covers, will know that Paul is a renowned artist (See Galahad’s Battle Scars album), he was very interesting to talk to and hopefully we’ll meet up again at ‘FrostBites’.

Although it was on our list, it was also very much Paul’s recommendation too, that we found ourselves in ‘The Dovetail’ a pub / bar that specialises in Belgium and European ales, which is where we encountered the ‘Delerium’ (On the pump no less) and foolishly followed that with a ‘Kwak’, who could resist a Kwak with its lovely glass in a wooden holder, ah, memories of Antrwerp.

By this time we were getting a little tipsy and a lot peckish so into ‘The Seksford Arms’ for absolutely splendid fish and chips at a mere £5:00 a head! (You also got the tail and the middle too) and of course another pint to wash it down with.

Another middle distance stroll took us up the hill, past, well almost past the doggie parlour, no, not dogging, doggie parlour, where Kevin was presented with postcards of two pretty appealing Cairn Terriers as we stopped to admire them before popping into ‘Filthy McNasty’s’ where we probably only had a half, at this stage I honestly can’t remember.

Finally we arrived at ‘The Lexington’ very merry but surprisingly not absolutely legless and very excited about what was to come, so, after procuring what was to be our final beer of the evening (Well I might have sneaked another one in later!) we made our way up-stairs to the music venue in time for the world to become a very differently exciting place indeed!

The Music Bit! (Which is entirely my own opinion and comments).
The Lexington was packed almost to capacity and I’m not at all surprised, although the tour was a three band tour (Knifeworld, The Fierce and the Dead and Trojan Horse) they had added a fourth, local, band at most venues, tonight in London it was the turn of ‘Pigshackle’, I wouldn’t know where to start to adequately describe their music but they were very good and certainly interesting, does ‘Prog-Punk’ crossover come close?

Next up it was the mighty ‘Trojan Horse’, I must admit, I’ve listened to a fair bit of Trojan Horse on Youtube and from their free downloads all of which I’d enjoyed but it still didn’t prepare me for the full on live show, for me it sounded like a unique blend of Prog with elements of Hardcore / Post Hardcore thrown in for good measure, heavy as hell and it sure worked for me, brilliant, brilliant stuff.

It was great to see our friend Matt Stevens fronting up the ‘Fierce and the Dead’, we’ve seen Matt several times playing his solo stuff and know what a genius he is but this was the first time for us to experience the full electric band and what an experience it turned out to be! If you’re a fan of complex soaring instrumental rock then you’ll love TFATD, we did, I’d go so far to say it was (Insert suitable expletive) AWESOME.

Finally ‘Knifeworld’ took to the stage, or should I say took over the stage there seemed to be so many of them!  With the traditional guitars and keyboards and drums there was a woodwind and brass section and how on earth does anyone manage to mix Rock, Prog, Indie, Jazz, (you name it it’s in there somewhere) all up together in a bouncy heady danceable cerebral trip of a music experience and make it work so brilliantly, well Knifeworld did, gobsmacked, utterly gobsmacked. The closest albeit tentative comparison that Kevin & I could agree on was, if Gong were formed now, new, young and fresh, this is probably the sort of music they would be playing! I hasten to point out that we are lifelong Gong fans.

The finale, well certainly the number before the well-earned encore, which saw just about all the bands on stage together was a sight and sound that has already engraved itself deeply in my fondest of memories.

All in all a damn good day out and a night to remember, and yes, we did make it home afterwards, just!

Kevin gave me a challenge, I had to write the poem to "Streets of London" by Ralph Mctell, so this is what I came up with:-

Did you see the two men
In Farringdon and Hatton Garden
Ambling along and laughing
One with a walking stick?
In their eyes was wonder
Real Ales for to plunder
Today’s adventures telling today’s new tall tales.

So how can you tell me you’re so sober
And say for you that the ale don’t flow?
Let me take you by the stick and drag you through the streets of London
I’ll show you pub’s that you never before did know.

Ye Olde Mitre & the One Tun
The Sir John Oldcastle were fun
Then the Hat and Tun with the spotless loos
Kevin said they smelled nice
And gave them a resounding “Seven”
“I can’t believe I heard that”
“He’s the Len Goodman of the loos!”


In the old Jerusalem Tavern
Dark and grey like a cavern
We met Paul who does art for prog bands
And his group of friends
They will be going to Frostbites
And other gigs we go to
So it’s a good probability
We’ll see them again!


And so on to the Dovetail
To sup on Belgium’s finest
Then off to the Seksford Arms
For Fish, chips and peas
On our stroll Kevin met two doggies
In the poodle parlour
They were little Cairn Terriers
And friendly as can be


We called in at Filthy McNasty’s
Before we found the Lexington
And four great bands that evening
For us all to see
Pigshackle and then of course
There was the mighty Trojan Horse
The Fierce and the Dead
And then Knifeworld came to close


Until the next time, stay warm, stay dry, stay happy - Grant.

Footnote: Apparently the stabbing the dead horse comes from a story that Kavus (Knifeworld) and his brother found a dead horse on Dartmoor, there was a knife and fork close by. they wondered if it was wrong to stab a horse that was already dead, they couldn't do it
time went on and the 3 bands were coming together for a tour ...Kavus thought the bands names were symbolic to the event that had occurred several years earlier.....

Words - Grant Meaby, Photographs - Kevin Blackett & Grant Meaby - A Fellowship of the Stick publication 2012.